Tamzin Outhwaite, Samantha Spiro and Jenna Russell
Tamzin Outhwaite, Samantha Spiro and Jenna Russell
© Johan Persson

If you're the soppy sort, Di and Viv and Rose, which recently transferred to the West End, will get you proper good, and even if you're not, it'll still make you think.

A captivating two and a half hour sojourn into the nature of female friendship, by turns it's funny, moving, sweet and shocking. It's everything you expect, with elements you really don't see coming.

The premise of Amelia Bullmore's lovely play is pretty simple: three women meet at university, and we see how things progress, from their spiky first interactions to the gradual softening as age and love of each other develops and matures.

Their tentative first steps aren't promising – feminist Viv is judgemental and argumentative with sappy, wide-eyed Rose, while Di, a sports-mad lesbian business student, holds the whole thing together with her calm demeanour. But, as these things will, time forgives all, and so a lasting friendship is born.

Tamzin Outhwaite is wonderful as Di, sharp yet soft, vulnerable, loving and not half as tough-skinned as she'd like to believe she is, while Jenna Russell plays soft, sexual Rose to perfection, gifted with a bunch of brilliant lines ("he gave me the fanny gallops"). Samantha Spiro, too, is well cast as Viv, lover of war-time looks until the fashion industry finds her, hemmed in by her own desperation to achieve (which she does, albeit giving up her own individuality to do so). Viv only comes into her own when she finally begins to realise that friendship means giving some of yourself to others, not just treating it as a one-way street.

While the trio don't quite bring enough of a youthful sensibility to the characters when they're first starting out, they really do make you believe in the truth of this taut triangle. Who needs men? They certainly don't. Go on, give it a go. It might even get you a cuddle.

Di and Viv and Rose runs at Vaudeville Theatre until 23 May